What Secret Is Hidden on Miskatonic’s Tap Handles?

In Beer News by Karl

It’s a question that crossed our mind at a bar one afternoon while staring at the ornate yet somehow rustic tap handle for Darien’s Miskatonic Brewing Company. Known for beers like their Demogorgon stout, Shield Maiden pale ale, Catchpenny rye kolsch and Cryomancer brut IPA, they brew beers that feel just perfect for your next D&D gaming session.

They also have a consistently Gothic (in the traditional sense of the word) set of labels featuring Lovecraftian creatures — their logo, a Victorian woman silhouette named Cecelia flaunts a nice intimidating set of tentacles — and the brewery itself is named for a fictional river valley created by Lovecraft. So it makes sense that just below the surface, there’s some hidden meaning to the things they put into the world.

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Which is where their tap handles come in.

Miskatonic Tap Handles
Photo via Miskatonic’s website.

Being of Scandinavian background, I was somewhat familiar with the runes adorning their tap handles … and after a while, it clicked with us that they weren’t just decorations, they were actual words. But what, you ask?

Turns out: It’s beer.

Roughly translated, the runes on the Miskatonic tap handle read:

Miskatonic Tap Handle
Photo found on eBay.
  • hops
  • molt
  • wotr
  • mind*
  • *hart
  • hands
  • thoshu*
  • wokd
  • thepath
  • befor

As you may have been able to suss out, we’ve confirmed that the top three are hops, malt and water. Beyond that, according to Brewery Manager Josh Mowry, the tap handles represent “everything we feel goes into a beer,” those being mind, heart and hands as well as the last line which reads “Those who’ve walked the path before.”

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Finally, what’s that thing at the end? “The Branch symbol is the elder sign, a reference to the fictional works of H.P. Lovecraft who inspired our name,” Mowry tells us. The Elder Sign, per Wikipedia, is “an icon in the Cthulhu Mythos, whose stories describe it as a form of protection against evil forces.”

So there you go. One less mystery in the beer world. You’re welcome. The Truth Is Out There.

Want to see what kind of beers Miskatonic might be putting out soon — or any of your other favorite Illinois breweries? Check out all of our New Illinois Beer Labels Posts.

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About the Author



Karl has written about food, travel and beer for Chicago Magazine, Thrillist, Time Out Chicago, AskMen and more. His book, Beer Lovers Chicago, is now available via Amazon and other booksellers. If you're buying, he's likely having a porter or a pale ale.

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